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The Glenreagh Railway Station precinct is the focus of a restoration project by local community group the Glenreagh Rail and Station Preservation Society (GRASPS) who want to save the building and preserve its historical significance. Image: Emma Pritchard

Station restoration plans remain on track

Emma Pritchard

Erected more than a century ago to service the growing communities of the Orara Valley and surrounding districts, the Glenreagh Railway Station precinct has a proud and distinguished history.

As the main junction of the North Coast Line and the Dorrigo Line, the simple weatherboard structure with cantilevered awnings symbolised an economic boost to the rural village and welcomed an exciting new era of transport to the region. 

Today, the iconic building stands solemnly in a state of disrepair as the freight trains and daily CountryLink XPT services pass by.    

The 103-year-old water tower which once stood at the northern end of the platform has gone, along with its history, brashly dismantled by the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) who cited safety concerns surrounding its age and condition more than two years ago.

A pile of scrap metal is all that remains.

Determined to protect the Glenreagh Railway Station precinct from the same fate is a local community group dedicated to preserving the history and heritage of the monument.

Formed in 2018, the Glenreagh Rail and Station Preservation Society (GRASPS) has met with Clarence Valley Council (CVC) on several occasions regarding their restoration plans.

Subsequent attempts have been made by both CVC and GRASPS through Heritage NSW and ARTC to have the property added to Section 170 of the Heritage and Conservation Register under the Heritage Act 1977 due to its historical value.

GRASPS have also approached ARTC to negotiate a partial lease of the site to allow their members access to begin the process of cleaning up the building and the surrounding yard.

At the time of publication, GRASPS had not been granted a partial lease.

“All we want to do is restore the station,” said Megan Casey, Joint-President of GRASPS.

“That’s our aim, our focus.”

Ms Casey previously met with ARTC representatives on site to discuss their plans and was told permitting GRASPS access to the location was a safety issue.

She said the groups offer to fence the station on a Sunday when there is less traffic on the main line to ensure the building “isn’t in the danger zone” did not receive a response from ARTC.

“ARTC do not own our history, it belongs to the community,” Ms Casey said.

“We want to restore the station and preserve its history, and we have a lot of support.

“We’ve already lost the water tower and we don’t want to lose the station too.”

GRASPS is currently organising a committee meeting to discuss their next approach.

They are determined to keep their restoration plans on track.

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